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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm Cheap, And You Can Fondue Me

I am of the opinion that cheese ought to be in its own food group, and anything with cheese is a good thing.  Well, almost anything with cheese is a good thing; movie theater and convenience store nachos are barely fit for human consumption, but you can't really call that stuff cheese, now can you?  In my comments on my Failing at Frugality post I mentioned that I want a fondue pot.  I also said that I never met a cheese I didn't like but then corrected myself because I think jalapeno jack is disgusting, largely because I don't like jalapenos.  I don't know why.  It's not their heat; Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapenos, and I like Serranos just fine; there is something about the flavor of jalapenos that I just don't like.  But forget about peppers- this post wasn't supposed to be about peppers; it's supposed to be about cheese.  Rich and lovely cheese melted in dry white wine and slurped up with crusty French bread and juicy apple chunks.  Mmmmmm.  Fondue!  Which  is one of my favorite things to eat.  I love raclette, too, but those raclette machines are really expensive, and I'm perfectly happy with fondue.  I've been wanting a fondue pot for awhile, and watching Rachel Ray make fondue the other night while waiting for something else to come on TV reminded me to pipe up and tell Steve that I wanted one.

"Okay, but we're not buying a new one.  That's something you can find at a thrift store."

I had to admit that he was right and that was a good idea, but then I also had to say goodbye to the idea of getting a Le Creuset or Emile Henry fondue pot, which are pretty nice.  They're also pretty pricey.  So we started hitting the thrift stores on Sunday.  Bad idea- only one was open on Sunday.  It had a fondue set but it was meh, not so nice.  Monday we were coming down 82nd from Trader Joe's and saw two thrift stores near enough each other that we could park the car once and check them both out.  Somewhere between the two of them we saw another, old teflon-coated thing that was pretty icky, so  we passed on that.  Tuesday, we made the trip back up 99 where we'd gone on Sunday, and at the last thrift store I found it while Steve was checking out the beer glasses.  The whole set, minus the forks, was sealed in a plastic bag and looked pretty good, and since it was marked at $4.95, we bought it.  We stopped at the grocery store closest to home to round out the cheese and wine stores I'd need to make the fondue, which at this point I was practically panting for.  I would have had it last night, but I'd already defrosted several short ribs from the freezer, which I cooked up in twenty-five minutes in my pressure cooker. (Really, get yourself one if you don't have one.  What a time and fuel saver.  I'm going to try to remember to use it more often!)  Steve had been stuck in a meeting all day, which means he was on the phone all day, and since he doesn't particularly like meetings (who does?) or talking on the phone, I thought he should have a nice treat for dinner and short ribs sounded like just the thing to make him happy, which they did.  So I had to put off my fondue fix for one more night.

Today I took the set out of it's bag, and guess what?  It's never even been used.  It's stainless steel and there wasn't a scratch on it anywhere.  It even still had it's Made in China sticker on it.   So score!

Granted, the cheap Chinese fondue pot itself is pretty cheesy
We wound up having to burn a can of solid Sterno under it because the grocery store didn't have any liquid Sterno, which kept it plenty hot, but it also scorched the cheese a little, so I really need to find some liquid Sterno for it because the Sterno burner that came with the fondue pot is a lot lower, and it's adjustable.  Other than that, though, it turned out great, and for five bucks, I'm extremely happy.  I feel like I'm back on the Frugality Wagon. 

Except now I need to get some forks, which can be had fairly inexpensively from Amazon, but those can wait.  We're making do with skewers.  We only had to fish a lost chunk of bread out a couple of times.


Miriam said...

I would like to come to your house for dinner. Short ribs, fondue - it doesn't matter, it all sounds great!

Lisa said...

Hi Paula.
Oh-cheese fondue is one of my favorites! We use tea lights instead of the sterno and it helps to better control the heat. I love my fondue with cornichons, carrot sticks, occasionally olives and homemade bread. I've never made one from scratch and usually pick up a fondue from Trader Joe's.

jules said...

Yum! I can remember back when I was a kid, my Dad and step-mom had a party and had fondue. Oh! and when my Nanny got married at 76, she had a fondue party for her reception at the house. How fun!

Toni aka irishlas said...

I haven't been anywhere near a fondue pot since the 70's! I'm thinking I might have to go thrifting for one! We are such cheese junkies! (and wine)

Damn, now I'm hungry for glorious, melted cheese!

Joleen said...

And you know the tradition - if your food drops off the fork into the cheese - your dinner partner gets a kiss from whoever dropped their food in the pot!

Paula said...

Miriam- you and Kim are welcome anytime you are in the Portland area. Just let me know when you're coming and we'll work something out.

Lisa- your additions sound great! I love cornichons. Making fondue from scratch is so ridiculously easy that I plan on trying difference cheeses, other than Swiss and Gruyere- the Gruyere is always pricey, and frankly, it reminded me of fresh Parmesan! Next time I make it, I'll post the recipe. And thanks for the candle idea; I'll try that next.

Jules- Your nanny got married at 76?!?! That's pretty cool! I guess if you're that cool, having fondue at your reception makes a lot of sense.

Toni- if you're a cheese (and wine) junkie, then fondue is right up your alley. Do yourself a favor and get a fondue pot as soon as you can. One caution though: if you suffer from hypertension due to salt sensitivity, you might want to check yourself. When I went to bed I could hear the blood pounding in my ears, and that was after I'd taken my blood pressure meds. It was so bad I asked God to not let me have a stroke in my sleep! Next time I'm looking for lower sodium cheese for the larger portion of the cheese, and I'll try not to make such a pig of myself!

Joleen- I was not aware of that tradition, but it sounds like a good one to me. Kisses are like parties; any reason for one is good enough for me.

jules said...

My Nanny got married at 76, to a man 82. He joked, after the wedding at the picture taking, that FINALLY he'd get to move downstairs to the master bedroom. He was originally from Canada, living in FL, up in MI for the wedding. She made him sleep upstairs in the spare bedroom until the wedding. This all was back in 1977 I guess. He was such a card, funny to the bone. They met playing cards at a yacht club in Daytona Beach, Florida. They had ten happy years together, going from FL to MI every spring, then back again in the winter, before he died. I loved that ole guy.